Sunday, May 22, 2022

Left Behind

The title of this post could easily describe me during the darkest years of my grief. 

I felt left behind. My friends and family were getting pregnant, having babies, and raising toddlers. I was left behind. Sure, my friends and family were nice people and they loved me. I was welcome to join them in the new season of their lives. But it always felt like I was entering and exiting a different world. I would have a hangover of feelings for days after hanging out.

Then there were my friends who didn't have kids. I was left behind there too. I was stuck in grief.

Elaine wrote about her six year blogging anniversary. Part of her post read, "Six years. Wow. There is so much gratitude. For everything I was able to overcome, leave behind, and learn."

For everything I was able to... leave behind.

That really stuck out to me. 

What if I wasn't left behind? What if it was me that was doing the leaving?

We all know I didn't have kids. That I went back to school to change careers. That I uprooted my life and moved 1200 miles across the country. That I left my marriage and got divorced. 

I left behind old hopes and dreams, dysfunctional relationships, and a life that didn't fit anymore.

Left behind.

One little phrase can mean so much. 
One little phrase can be turned around with a change in perspective.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Retirement Announcement

In my last post I shared an article from an author who is retiring from aunthood. 

It's an appropriate segue to share my big news: I am retiring from pediatrics.

It's pretty major. I did not come to this decision easily or lightly. I looove kids. And they love me. It's pretty much always an instant connection when I meet a new child or adolescent. I love working with children. I mean, I've been doing it for 25 years!

It started when I was 17 and got an amazing opportunity to get trained to work with a 4-year-old with autism in his home. What an incredible opportunity for a high school senior. 

During my freshman year of college I started a mentorship program at a neighboring elementary school. We paired college students with elementary students one-on-one and met once a week for fun activities.

After graduating college, I became an elementary special education teacher. I loved it! Not the paperwork, but the kids. The relationships we built. The fun we had. Nobody ever wanted to leave my classroom, myself included. 

I tried a semester of law school, but it was boring. And pointless. To me anyway. My classmates would complain about reading for six hours the night before and all I could think was, "Yeah, but did you TEACH anyone to read? That's what matters." I mean... They were complaining about reading when they knew how to read. When they knew English and the reading was in English. I just couldn't wrap my head around their complaints. It wasn't for me. I dropped out. 

I went back to teaching.

I kept teaching until I moved with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn't certified to teach in that state so I got a job with a non-profit... Running a program that benefited children. But after six months of working in schools and training teachers, I knew I had to return.

I moved back home and went back to teaching.

That job was my favorite job I've had yet. I stayed there for three years before quitting to start a family with my new (now ex-) husband.

Oh. Maybe I should have waited until I got pregnant?

But even then... I volunteered at the elementary school around the corner. I needed something that gave my life meaning. I asked the school counselor to pair me with a kid that needed extra attention, and I would go once a week with a crate on wheels filled with books, games, and craft supplies. We would do whatever the child wanted to do for thirty whole minutes. It was so much fun for both of us.

But after years of TTC, 3 failed IUIs, and 2 failed IVFs, I knew I had to put my energy elsewhere. (Ha! What energy?? There was hardly anything left of me aside from my skin and bones.) After isolating myself in my home for several years (except for my weekly volunteering gig and my Friday nights out to eat), I decided to go back to school for a new career. 

I braved the outside fertile world. I endured a semester of pediatrics taught by insensitive professors and interacted with classmates who were parenting and/or pregnant. Since knowing I'm not going to be raising children, I have substituted at a preschool, taught middle school math, been a healthcare provider in an elementary school, and worked in outpatient pediatrics.

Some habits die hard.

But now... I am announcing my retirement. Only you all and my boyfriend know. I tried telling my mom, but she exclaimed, "But that's where your gifts are! Who will serve the children??" 

You know what? That's not actually my responsibility. I am allowed to develop new gifts and take my services to new-to-me populations.

I will miss working with kids, but I will not miss working with fertile co-workers who judge me for my methods. Like I said, kids love me. I take a different approach with them. I treat each child like they are their own, individual person. (What a novel idea!) I don't talk down to them, I validate what they feel, and I help them with whatever it is they want help with. Needless to say, they like me. Kids trust me. And that leads to a lot of jealousy in the workplace. I don't need that shit. I don't need to be treated like a 12-year-old by my co-workers. It has happened in every place I've worked (except for the aforementioned Favorite Job where I got the chance to feel valued and respected). Sorry I look 25 and sorry kids like me, but there's nothing I can do about that.

Whew! /end rant
Well, that particular rant anyway...

I didn't even have problems with the parents. That's a common obstacle. But not for me. Parents knew I had their child's best interest at heart. They knew it and they trusted me. Their child liked me and trusted me, and that's what mattered most to the parents. I didn't judge them or their child; I just met everyone wherever they were on this journey of life. The parents knew that.

It was the co-workers. And the screens. Ohhh the screens. Our poor children are growing up addicted. It's not just tv. It's cell phones and lap tops and tablets. It's not reading a book in the waiting room anymore but watching a video. It's not drawing in class but constantly checking social media. Even in grad school, my classmates were always shopping online instead of listening to the lecture. Until I can find a school or facility that uses old fashioned paper and pencil instead of computers with kids, I cannot participate. It's too much to overcome.

My last birthday was the turning point. Who knew turning 42 would be so pivotal? That's when I realized I'd been working with children for 25 years. I thought about what I wanted to do for the next 25 years. I don't plan on being able to retire, so I at least want to somewhat enjoy whatever it is I'm doing. I'm getting older and, as I look to the future, I don't want to be getting up and down from the floor all day. I already can't run and play as long as I used to. I'm just... changing. And that's okay. Physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. I love kids, but I am taking my career in a new direction. I am going to build my skill set so I will be qualified to work with adults.

I am retiring from pediatrics.

It was an extremely hard decision.

But it feels right for me. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Hard Truth

Oh man, I just read a very interesting article shared on Loribeth's Weekend Odds & Ends. Like I commented on her post, I can't believe I just read in print what I've secretly thought to myself for years. The article is called I'm Retiring From Aunthood and I'm going to describe it as brave.

The author spent fifteen years pouring herself into her nieces' and nephews' lives. And for what. Now they've all moved away. She doesn't have anything to show for it. She doesn't get gifts. I assume she doesn't get phone calls. She doesn't get any special recognition for being their aunt. 

She writes with brutal honesty, "And I wonder if being an aunt really matters, at all."

Oof. I feel that.

I am of the mind that it doesn't. I mean, it does. But... It totally doesn't.

I love my niece. I love my nephew. But I have no idea what is going on in their lives. I never do. They don't tell me and neither do my sisters. Nobody thinks to tell me. Nobody gets good news to share or wants life advice and thinks, "I'm gonna call Phoenix." Nope. Never. I love them and they love me, but I'm not talking about love. I'm talking about being in active relationship.

I had a very close friend many years ago. I've written about her before. I literally screamed over the phone when she called to tell me she was pregnant. I went to the baby shower. I went to the girl's birthday party every year. Until I didn't. I had already bought her presents, but I wasn't invited to birthday party #6.

So... Biological aunt, honorary aunt, it doesn't really matter. Nobody cares. I mean, they do. But they don't. I've learned not to get my hopes up. I don't get involved with other people's kids anymore. I care about them, but I also care about myself. Nobody takes care of me, so I do.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Home is a Place and a Feeling

I'm. Not. Moving!!! My boyfriend reminded me of this today as we were not packing. ;)

I have moved five times in the last six years. Moving is hard. In so many indescribable ways.

In the spring of 2016, I moved out of the house I bought for my children and put it on the market.
My husband and I moved into an overpriced rental house back in the city where I never wanted to live again in order to shorten my commute to school. I made the best of it and, despite my grief and a terrible graduate program, I even managed to enjoy myself.

In 2018 I moved out of state into an overpriced apartment in yet another city. Even though this out-of-state move had been jointly planned and excitedly anticipated for three whole years, my husband did not move with me. He said he was going to and I thought he was going to, but he never even looked for a job. There were other contributing factors as well, and we got divorced.

In 2019 I moved out of the city (yay!) and into an overpriced condo in a traffic-ridden tourist town. 

In 2020 I moved with my boyfriend during the pandemic to a small town in the middle of nowhere into a dingy rental house with a questionable history. At least it wasn't overpriced.

In 2021 we bought a house (yay!!!) and moved one street over. His kids are grown and I'm not having any (maybe you've heard? lol) and our home is absolutely perfect for the two of us.

Now it's 2022 and I'm. Not. Moving!!! :)

(Full disclosure: I still have a storage unit back in the city, so I technically have one more move left. But hey, I WILL move out of there this summer. Or this fall at the latest. I promise myself.)

With each move, I felt like giving up every step of the way.

I could have stayed in the house I bought for my children. It was beautiful. My best friend lived nearby. There were restaurants I liked and it was near a park where I walked every week.

But I couldn't. I couldn't stay in my children's house. I couldn't stay in the city. I couldn't stay in the state. I couldn't stay in the next city. I couldn't stay in the next place. I had to keep going. I had to create a life I WANTED to live. I had to find myself a home. 

And now I'm here. I've been here. It will be a year in our house in less than two months.

I am not packing.
I am not looking for housing.
I am not changing my address.
I am not closing and opening utility accounts.

I'm staying right here.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mothering Myself

Oh, what a day! I slept horribly, woke up early, and tried to break through my groggy fog with coffee. But then it got good. I attended Sarah's online yoga class and it was incredible. It was so seemingly simple but also a full body experience. And I attended with four other women, two I "know" from blogging and two I didn't know. Altogether we represented three different countries. Pretty freaking awesome. I loved it.

I felt so good and grounded afterward... I ended up going out to eat at a restaurant.


Yes. Yes, I did folks. After practically hibernating for 25 months I went out to eat on freaking Mother's Day. Hahahaha. I crack myself up. But it was awesome. Infection numbers are really low in our rural county so I felt comfortable. Also, we went at an off time (late afternoon--after the church crowd, before the dinner crowd) so it wasn't crowded, which added to our comfort. I ordered bacon wrapped shrimp, which I used to eat every Friday night but haven't had since I moved out of state FOUR years ago. Then a large party of four men and four teenage boys sat in the same area as us. Not a Mother's Day vibe in sight, ha! No one wished me a Happy Mother's Day and nobody offered me a flower (which, honestly, I would have taken lol). Dear God, the food was so good. Oh, it was so good. My boyfriend didn't have to cook. I didn't have to do the dishes. It. Was. Glorious! And on a day when I used to never leave the house. Wonders never cease...

So, that was my day. And below is the post that I had planned for today. I wrote it a week or two ago and now here it is for you.

Take care of yourself. You are important.



If my mother read this, she would be crushed. She has her own traumas that inform her behavior. She loves me. She really does. And I love her.


This is my truth.


I was emotionally neglected as a child. My feelings were discounted and invalidated. My developmentally appropriate behaviors were judged and punished. I was called names, told what to wear, and was forced to go to church three times a week. This was during a time when I was enrolled in all honors and AP classes and highly involved in extra-curricular activities. A typical day for me, from waking up to going to sleep, was at least 16 hours long. I was exhausted, not to mention clinically depressed. I was your typical overachiever, but the implied message I often got at home from my mother was that I was selfish and ungrateful.

The thing that sticks with me the most was being told, "I will always love you, but I do NOT like you. I'm going to this dinner and I will pretend in front of your father that everything is fine," as we walked out the door to celebrate my 18th birthday.

I had to be my own mother. I had to take care of myself emotionally. The skills I learned as a child and teenager have served me well in life, but at what cost? 

I looked forward to mothering my own child(ren). I looked forward to holding their hand when they were sick instead of making fun of them for being dramatic. I looked forward to cooking them breakfast instead of sleeping in every day. I looked forward to supporting them through difficult jobs, relationships, and decisions instead of telling them that they didn't deserve to make more money or telling them, "That's just life."

I know it wouldn't have been fair to my child(ren). It was not up to my kids to help me heal my childhood wounds. But I will always be honest and... Honestly? I was looking forward to creating what I never had.

I didn't feel supported emotionally when I was young and I don't have a healthy adult relationship with my mother now. The criticism and attempts to control me have never stopped. I never seem to be doing the right thing. It doesn't feel good, but I no longer take 100% responsibility for it all.

My mother had a tough childhood. She has her own unresolved traumas. Older me can empathize with her and I understand that she does the best she can. I know she loves me. I know she wants the best for me, even if we don't agree on what that is. I'm an adult and I DO know what is best for me now.

It's just another thing that stings, another thing that infertility took from me. 

I don't get to mother my children. But I will continue to mother myself.


To end on a funny note, my mom found this card I made her 30 years ago and texted me the picture this morning. You can't say I'm not honest! Hahahahaha.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Join Us this Sunday

Well, I am never shy about sharing when I am having a hard time. I think it's important to be honest about that. It's so easy to feel alone in our struggles. But we are not. We are never alone.

March was HARD. Then April sucked too. As the saying goes... Shit happens.

But, if you've been reading my blog you know that I am committed to two things:

  1.  feeling my feelings
  2.  not staying stuck (eventually... I honor when I need to stop and sit with the shit.)
When I'm really, really struggling I turn to what has comforted me in the past: books. Books are where I can feel validated. Books are where I can engage in a healthy escape from my life. Books are where I can learn about myself, the world, and new coping strategies. (P.S. I am still loving my current read, Homecoming by Dr. Thema Bryant. I wrote about it in my last post.

My second foolproof tool is yoga. Not the annoying kind of yoga led by teachers who are happy, yet clueless and inexperienced with life's hardships. And not the competitive exercise kind of yoga that I found to be so common in the suburbs. I love what I consider to be true yoga--the kind that is not flashy or flowery and is simply about connecting your movement with your breath. When I am feeling the most anxious, yoga is the only thing that helps me calm my insides. Of course, I never stop taking my medication, but it's practicing yoga that truly helps me feel better. ;)

So, after two terrible feeling months, I was ecstatic to be invited to participate in a "run through" of Sarah's upcoming yoga class. I marked my calendar and counted down the days. It definitely did not disappoint.

The yoga class led by Sarah was gentle, yet active. She told us what to do and we followed along. I knew I'd be safe in her care, so I let my worries go. Like all great yoga classes should be, Sarah's class was perfect for both beginners and experienced yoga practitioners. 

Additionally, I was just so grateful to be in the company of women I've yet to meet but have been blogging with for over five years. Even more so, I could hardly believe that I was sharing a space online with the woman who wrote the book that gave me hope for life after infertility when I had none (Silent Sorority), a book I read many years before I ever even started blogging.


And that's how the whole class felt. Safe. Friendly. Familiar. It was a priceless gift.

Something in me shifted. I woke up the next day, not sore necessarily, but I could tell I had invited movement into my body. It felt so good. I also felt lighter in my mood. I could tell May was going to be a better month.

And here's the great news: you can join us for Sarah's next yoga class! It's free (which is always affordable) and you can sign up HERE. It's on Sunday (cough, Mother's Day, cough) at 12:00 ET.

Let's be honest. If you're anything like me, you may want to sign up but be too nervous to commit. Do it anyway! Then, if you're anything like me, you will sign up but as the day approaches, you will feel anxious and not want to attend. Do it anyway! Then again, if you're anything like me, when the actual time comes you might not want to log in and show up. Do it anyway!

You'll be so glad you did.

Hope to see you there 💜